Aug 25, 2016
Steve Gomez - Chief Investigator

Noir Factory Podcast #19: The Kray Twins

The Kray Twins“They were the best years of our lives. They called them the swinging sixties. The Beatles were rulers of pop music, Carnaby Street ruled the fashion world…and me and my brother ruled London. We were fucking untouchable.” – Ronnie Kray, from his autobiography

The East End of London during the sixties was a mixture of poor and artistic, of modern and bohemian, of classic and diversity that England had never seen before or since. It was like Bauhaus before Hitler. It was like Harlem in the 20’s. It was like… well, it wasn’t like anything ever, and that’s what made it special.

Clubs and art galleries sprang up amid the squalor that was the East End, and with them came the rich and the beautiful. It was said, rather famously, that “London’s West End has all the money and leisure and that the East End monopolizes most of the labor and nearly all of the dirt.”

In the 60’s it was time for the dirt in the East End to shine.
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Aug 12, 2016
Steve Gomez - Chief Investigator

Noir Factory Podcast #18: The Cotton Club – Nightclub

The Cotton Club“It was infamously racially exclusive. W.C. Handy wished to go one evening to the Cotton Club and he was turned away. And he could hear his music being performed!” – Levering Lewis, historian

It was the greatest nightclub of its day and there’s a convincing argument to be made that it was the greatest nightclub that ever was. Opening its doors during the Harlem Renaissance, The Cotton Club was part Speakeasy, part dance-hall, part supper club, and all entertainment.

Owned by Chicago gangster Owney Madden, the Cotton Club featured expensive food, cold beer, even during prohibition, and the greatest lineup of black entertainers in America of its time, and perhaps of any time.

And all of it was available for a small cover charge.

But only if you were white.

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Jul 28, 2016
Steve Gomez - Chief Investigator

Noir Factory Podcast #17: Raymond Chandler – Writer

NF Case #17: Raymond Chandler - Writer“Down these mean streets a man must go who is not himself mean, who is neither tarnished nor afraid. He is the hero; he is everything. He must be a complete man and a common man and yet an unusual man. He must be, to use a rather weathered phrase, a man of honor—by instinct, by inevitability, without thought of it, and certainly without saying it. He must be the best man in his world and a good enough man for any world.”

“He will take no man’s money dishonestly and no man’s insolence without a due and dispassionate revenge. He is a lonely man and his pride is that you will treat him as a proud man or be very sorry you ever saw him.”

“The story is this man’s adventure in search of a hidden truth, and it would be no adventure if it did not happen to a man fit for adventure. If there were enough like him, the world would be a very safe place to live in, without becoming too dull to be worth living in.”

-Raymond Chandler, Writer

Raymond Chandler didn’t invent hard-boiled fiction. Chandler, like Dashiell Hammett, saw a new narrative forming in popular literature and they felt comfortable working in it. It was a style of detectives and dames and it rang a bell with the American public.
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Jul 21, 2016
Steve Gomez - Chief Investigator

A Jury of Twelve Answers…. “What is Noir?” the Supreme Court ruling of Jacobellis vs. Ohio, Justice Potter Stewart wrote regarding obscenity that “he knew it when he saw it.”

That’s a good benchmark for a lot of things, but it works particularly well for noir.

The Encyclopedia Britannica had this to say about film noir:

Film noir, (French: “dark film”) style of film-making characterized by elements such as cynical heroes, stark lighting effects, frequent use of flashbacks, intricate plots, and an underlying existentialist philosophy. The genre was prevalent mostly in American crime dramas of the post-World War II era.

You can narrow that scope and talk about the characteristics of noir in general. The genre usually springs from a hard-boiled background, takes place in an urban setting, features the presence of a femme fatale, and reflects the uncertainty of American culture in the forties and fifties. Film noir heroes tend to be morally ambiguous and despair is as ever-present as a shadow.
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Jul 8, 2016
Steve Gomez - Chief Investigator

Noir Factory Podcast #16: The Strand & The Black Mask – Pulp Legends

The Strand Black Mask pulp“A pulp story without a detective and, obviously, somebody for him to do battle with is unthinkable, and I can’t remember reading a pulp story that didn’t have a dame – either a good girl or a bad girl.” – Otto Penzler

The 1890’s in Europe was, for all intents and purposes, a golden age for serialized stories in print. In England Charles Dickens became the first rock star the world had ever seen, and in France, serialized versions of The Three Musketeers and The Count of Monte Cristo were spread out over hundreds of installments, making their publishers wealthy.

In one case, a German novel published in serialized form for Die Gartenlaube catapulted their circulation to over 350,000 readers in 1875.

The public was hungry for serialized literature, and the novel, thanks to writers such as Dickens and Wilkie Collins, was still in its infancy. Put those two facts together, and you were truly on to something.
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